15 Feb How to Plan Your Day for Maximum Productivity
Plan ahead to maximise productivity
Do you get to the end of the day and think “what did I do all day”? Do you feel overwhelmed by your workload? Are you always being pulled in different directions? If the answer is yes, then you may need to learn how to plan your day better.
Whether you’re working remotely or in the office, understanding how to plan your day is key to achieving your goals. Many of our Personal Efficiency Program clients ask us “How do I plan my day?”. So today, we discuss practical strategies for planning your day, to maximise your effectiveness.
1. Plan the afternoon before
When you plan ahead the afternoon before, it saves you time and energy in the morning. You wake up prepared, and you can focus on the most important tasks as soon as you start work.
An excellent tool for planning your day is the humble calendar. A well-organised calendar can make a big difference to your productivity. Decide on your top 1-3 tasks for the day, and figure out how much time you need for each task. Then block out time in your calendar to do them. Putting tasks in the calendar means that others can’t fill up your time with less important tasks.
For those who have hybrid working arrangements, we may need to plan office days and home days slightly differently. For example, we might schedule focussed work for home and collaborative work for the office.
A plan helps us focus on what’s important, instead of impromptu tasks that pop up during the day. So spend 10-15 minutes to plan the afternoon before, it’s well worth the time investment!
2. Eat the frog
The Eat the Frog method says that you should tackle your least favourite task first when you’re most motivated. The least favourite is often the most challenging task – the one that requires the most energy. Eating the frog means that you finish the hardest task first before you’d have a chance to procrastinate.
The best part is that once you’ve eaten your frog, you’ll feel accomplished and motivated to achieve more.
3. Buffers and breaks
When you’re planning out your day, it’s a good idea to leave some buffer time in case a task takes longer than expected. You should also leave buffer time between meetings. You can use this time to prepare for important meetings or to write up summary notes.
Also, don’t forget to block out time in your calendar for breaks. It may be tempting to skip your lunch break when you’re busy, but taking breaks is good for your productivity and wellbeing. Breaks help us to stay focussed and avoid burnout.
``Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.``
4. Review your calendar first thing in the morning
Now that you’ve got a well-organised calendar start each day by looking it over. Mentally prepare yourself for the day. You can automate this by setting up your email client to show your calendar first. For example, Outlook can show your calendar first, and Google can email your daily agenda.
Make it a daily habit to start the day with your calendar. Consistency will help you build structure and discipline.
5. Know your goals and priorities
How should you decide which tasks are the most important? To prioritise effectively, you need to know what your goals are. What do you want to achieve? Why is it important to you? If you have too many goals, you may need to choose the most important ones to focus on.
Once you’ve figured out what your goals are, you need a plan for achieving them. Try using the SMART framework to clarify your goals to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Then, break down your goals into smaller steps and tasks.
Keep your goals visible. When planning out your days, check that you’re prioritising tasks that help you achieve your goals. Review your goals regularly so you can track progress and adjust them as needed.
Knowing how to plan your day is a skill. Planning ahead helps us to allocate our limited time most efficiently. Learn how our tailored programs can help you plan better and maximise your productivity, regardless of your working location.
By Simon Nicholls